Senate recommends Ottawa use a light touch when regulating Bitcoin

TORONTO — A report from Canada’s Senate says Ottawa should use a “light touch” when considering any regulation of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, to avoid stifling the growth of these new technologies.The report recommends that the federal government should employ “almost a hands off approach” when it comes to virtual currencies, monitoring the situation as it evolves and only introducing regulations as necessary.Bitcoin is a digital currency that is exchanged through peer-to-peer computer networks and is not issued or controlled by a central bank or any other authority.Virtual currencies like Bitcoin employ blockchain technology, which is computer code that that makes up the currency’s underlying architecture.The Senate report says blockchain technology has many promising applications, and recommends that the federal government consider using it to enhance the protection of private information.“Our committee was told that by cutting out third parties, blockchain technology can give consumers and governments a more effective level of online security — particularly relevant given the cyber attack on government of Canada websites this week,” Senator Irving Gerstein said during a news conference Friday.Bitcoin is the real winner in Greece crisisBitGold begins trading on TSX Venture Exchange as gold transaction platform builds momentumHe was referring to a co-ordinated denial-of-service attack that blocked access to federal government websites for nearly two hours on Wednesday. The hacking group Anonymous claimed responsibility and said the attack was to protest the government’s anti-terrorism bill C-51. Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said no personal information was compromised.The Senate’s report on digital currency is the culmination of 14 months of research by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, including interviews with 55 witnesses and a fact-finding trip to New York City.Blockchain technology could be used to securely and permanently register marriages, births, real estate deals and a “myriad” of other transactions, Gerstein said.Digital currency can also benefit people in the developing world by providing them with access to financial services, thus improving their quality of life, he added.“However, there are two sides to every coin — even a Bitcoin,” said Gerstein. “The power offered by blockchain technology for people to protect their identity has a flipside.”In particular, the committee report noted risks that the technology could be used to launder money or finance terrorist activities.“The consequence of this risk of criminality means a certain amount of regulation is needed,” Gerstein said.“However, balance is something almost all witnesses stressed, and the committee is of like mind. We recognize that these new technologies may have other innovative and, as of yet, unimagined applications, and we are at a delicate stage in their development. Accordingly, the committee has concluded that the best strategy dealing with digital currencies is to tread carefully when contemplating regulations so as not to stifle innovation.”The committee also suggested it perform another review of the regulatory environment for digital currencies in the next three years.The Bitcoin Alliance of Canada said it a news release that it welcomes the report’s findings and urges the government, as well as the private sector, to consider them. read more

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British Airways Reports of delays and cancellations at Heathrow as airline reports

The delays yesterday came after an earlier fire alert at Heathrow’s air traffic control tower briefly forced flight to be diverted to other airports. It “impacted operation of the airfield for a short while” on Wednesday afternoon, according to the airport.Last May’s IT failure, which also came at the start of a busy holiday period, sparked intense criticism of the company and its management, as well as frustration over the lack of information handed out to customers by BA staff.It was blamed by the company on an electrical technician employed by an outside supplier for shutting down an “uninterruptible power supply” located in the plant room of the firm’s London data centre. British Airways said in a statement: “As with a number of airlines we are experiencing some disruption at Heathrow a result of an issue with a supplier IT system. “We are working with our supplier to resolve the matter and are sorry for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans.” British Airways passengers reported long delays and cancellations on Wednesday night after the airline reported an issue with its computer systems.Passengers said that planes operated by the airline were not taking off from Heathrow, amid reports on social media of delayed  aircraft across Europe.British Airways customers arriving at Heathrow Terminal Five were reportedly told that a computer system failure had halted all British Airways flights.They were reportedly advised to book overnight accommodation or seek alternative travel arrangements. There were also reports that the airline online-check in service had failed.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––“We are experiencing disruption to our flights as a result of an issue with some of our IT systems,” British Airways tweeted earlier last nightIt added: “We are working hard to urgently resolve the matter and are sorry for the disruption to some customers’ travel plans. A spokesperson for Heathrow, said: “We are aware that British Airways is currently experiencing an issue which is impacting their ability to provide boarding passes to some passengers. We will be working with the airline to support their efforts to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”The IT system failure comes just over a year after a computer meltdown saw the airline forced to cancel 726 flights over three days, leaving 75,000 passengers stranded and costing the company around £100m Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

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